9 tips for launching a new product or service

Product development and marketing experts offer advice for rolling out a new product or service and successfully getting the word out to customers.

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So you are about to launch a new product or service, or are thinking about it. Congratulations. Unfortunately, having the best idea (or product or service) in the world may not get you buzz, or sales, if the right people don’t know about it. Here are nine steps you can take to increase the odds of your rollout being successful.

1. Make sure the product or service works – before you start selling it. Whether your product or service is digital in nature, or you plan on selling it online, first “make sure the app or website is bug-free,” says Mark Tuchscherer, cofounder & president, Geeks Chicago, a Web development company. “We see products launch all the time that companies didn't test thoroughly, and this is the best way to lose potential customers,” he explains. “People have short attention spans and want stuff to work fast. If your application crashes in the first few seconds, you are going to lose a lot of new users.”

The same applies to nonsoftware or Web-based products. Before you release it, make sure your new product works – or won’t easily break or malfunction shortly after the customer has acquired it.

2. But don’t worry if your product isn’t absolutely perfect at the get-go. “Don’t wait until everything is perfect to launch,” says Chad Halvorson, founder & CEO, When I Work, which provides employee scheduling software. “At the end of the day, you’re going to be able to make improvements to your product once you get it into the hands of customers and people in your ideal audience.”

Just make sure the product or service works. After the initial launch, you can “use tools like Intercom and Qualaroo to get real-time feedback from customers [and] use that feedback to improve your product on an ongoing basis,” Halvorson says.

3. Create a dedicated landing page with an email opt-in. “When launching a new product, [especially] using crowdfunding tools like Kickstarter or Indiegogo, it's critical to build a critical mass of followers before the campaign goes live,” says Len Kendall, head of Social at Havas Worldwide Chicago and maker of Devil's Advocate, a soon-to-be-released card game. “That way, when the [product or service or] crowdfund [campaign] goes live, there's a group of people you can quickly tap to support you.”

Just make sure to “develop useful content [for that landing page] that will attract your target audience to sign up for your mailing list or follow you on social media,” advises Amrita Chandra, head of Marketing, Normative, a software design firm. That way, “when you are ready to launch, you already have an audience of people that are interested in what you have to say,” she says.

4. Build and/or join a community. “Tap into the power of community early on,” says Gregg Pollack, founder & CEO, Code School. “In other words, find a community of like-minded people who would use your product or service and engage that community either via social media or in person,” he says. “This is especially valuable in the tech world. There are a multitude of meet-ups for all kinds of tech, so engaging these communities in person is very doable [and advisable].”

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